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Vivienne's Year of the Cat - Part 3

This is a continuation of the topic Vivienne's Year of the Cat - 2nd Quarter.

This topic was continued by Vivienne's Year of the Cat - End of the Year.

2017 Category Challenge

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Edited: Sep 1, 2017, 7:05pm Top

Welcome to Part 3 of The Year of the Cat. As usual, I can also be found at the Club Read group: Vivienne's Club Read 2017

My goal is to read at least one book per month in each category. 12 categories. With 25 in BingoDOG, that makes for a total 157

Some of my categories are from CATs that didn't make the cut this year. They inspired the theme. To make things interesting I decided to limit AlphaKIT to mysteries only.

I'm awarding a letter grade with the aim of reducing the tbr collection, especially the dust collectors.

A for books acquired before 2015
B for books acquired since 2015
C for books borrowed from the library or friends

1. Dust collectors - TBR owned for more than two years
2. Recommendations
3. Series
4. Translations
5. Biography
6. History / historical fiction
7. Calendar memos - Books related to commemorative days on the calendar
8. Alpha-Mystery-KIT - AlphaKIT limited to mysteries
9. CATwoman
10. AwardsCAT
11. RandomCAT
12. BingoDOG

Edited: Oct 11, 2017, 3:00am Top

Dust collectors
Chosen from books that have been on the TBR shelves for more than two years

January: Quite honestly by John Mortimer
February: Mortal Coils by Aldous Huxley
March: The lark in the clear air by Dennis T. Patrick Sears
April: The book of Stanley by Todd Babiak
May: Call the dead again by Ann Granger
June: Olivia Joules and the overactive imagination by Helen Fielding
July: The Rebel Angels by Robertson Davies
August: In a Dry Season by Peter Robinson
September: The Religious Body by Catherine Aird
October: The Critic by Peter May

Edited: Oct 18, 2017, 4:24pm Top

From LTers and other friends and family

January: My name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout - recommended by ridgewaygirl
February: Dead ground in between by Maureen Jennings - from an author bullet from rabbitprincess
March: On Canaan's side by Sebastian Barry from bookbullets
April: Three Day Road by Joseph Boyden recommended by my friend, John
         Autumn by Ali Smith Elizabeth Strout - another recommendation from ridgewaygirl
May: His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet a bookbullet from sassylassy
June: Freeze Frame by Peter May
July: The Specific Ocean by Kyo Maclear, illustrated by Katty Maurey
         A rule against murder by Louise Penny
August: Restless by William Boyd BB from Ameise1
September: One Fine Day by Mollie Panter-Downes bookbullet from All Virago, All August thread on Virago Modern Classics group
October: Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny from flying BBs
         Cleopatra: a life by Stacy Schiff from rebeccanyc

Edited: Nov 18, 2017, 1:44pm Top

I'd like to limit this to series I'm already reading, but I'm not excluding new series

January: Ruling Passion by Reginald Hill (Dalziel & Pascoe)
February: The curious case of the copper corpse by C. Alan Bradley (Flavia de Luce)
            Skeleton Hill by Peter Lovesey (Peter Diamond series)
            Smiley's People by John le Carré
March: A Question of Blood by Ian Rankin
April: Desert heat by J.A. Jance
May: Career of evil by Robert Galbraith
June: Doctor Thorne by Anthony Trollope
         Dry Bones that Dream by Peter Robinson
July: The Taken by Inger Ash Wolfe
August: Love over Scotland by Alexander McCall Smith
September: The Likeness by Tana French
October: Black and Blue by Ian Rankin
November: My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante

Edited: Sep 12, 2017, 10:10pm Top


January: The terracotta dog by Andrea Camilleri, translated from Italian by Stephen Sartarelli
February: A man called Ove by Fredrick Backman, translated from Swedish by Henning Koch
March: The Dinner by Herman Koch, translated from Dutch by Sam Garrett
April: Dimanche and other stories by Iréne Nèmirovsky, translated from French
May: August Heat by Andrea Camilleri translated by Stephen Sartarelli
June: The white lioness by Henning Mankell, translated by Laurie Thompson
July: Sanaaq: an Inuit novel by Mitiarjuk Nappaaluk translated from Inuktitut to French to English
August: The Snack Thief by Andrea Camilleri
September: The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, translated from French

Edited: Nov 24, 2017, 1:55am Top

Calendar memos
Books related to commemorative days on the calendar

January 25: Robert Burns Night: The naming of the dead by Ian Rankin
February 14: Valentine's Day: The pursuit of love by Nancy Mitford
March 8: International Women's Day: Roast Beef, Medium: the business adventures of Emma Chesney by Edna Ferber
March 1: St. David's Day: Miss Peregrine's home for peculiar children by Ransom Riggs
April 1: April Fool's Day: April Fool by William Deverell
April 2: International Children's Book Day: Millhouse by Natale Ghent
May 8: VE Day: Peace by Richard Bausch
May 24: Commonwealth Day: West with the night by Beryl Markham
June 6: D-Day: Double cross: the true story of the D-Day spies by Ben Macintyre
June 17: Icelandic Day: Burial rites by Hannah Kent
July 1: Canada Day: Running in the family by Michael Ondaatje
                             ​Vegetarian celebrations by Nava Atlas
July 4: My birthday: Birthday Party by C.H.B. Kitchin
August 1: Yorkshire Day: Not the end of the world by Yorkshire-born author Kate Atkinson
August 7: British Columbia Day: The tiny hero of Ferny Creek library by Vancouver author Linda Bailey
August 12: International Youth Day: Solace of the road by Siobhan Dowd
September: Labour Day: A Question of Proof by Quentin Blake
September 21: International Peace Day: International Peace Day: Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
September 26: European Day of Languages: Roseanna by Maj Sjöwall & Per Wahlöö
October 5, 2017: Full Moon: When the Moon Comes by Paul Harbridge, illustrations by Matt James
October 29: National Cat Day: The Black Cat by Martha Grimes
October 31: Hallowe'en: The Skeleton Haunts a House by Leigh Perry
November 5: Guy Fawkes Day: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy by John le Carré
                             ​ Marbeck and the Gunpowder Plot by John Pilkington
November 11: Remembrance Day: Night by Elie Wiesel
November 30: St Andrew's Day: Death of a Maid by M.C. Beaton

December 10: Human Rights Day
December 25: Christmas

Edited: Nov 15, 2017, 4:46pm Top

Alpha-Mystery-KIT - AlphaKIT limited to mysteries

Jan: M & S: The locked room by Maj Sjöwall & Per Wahlöö
Feb: W & H: The Silent Wife by A.S.A. Harrison
Mar: E & K: End of Watch by Stephen King
Apr: I & D: Death at the President's Lodging by Michael Innes
May: C & T: Bad Luck and Trouble by Lee Child
Jun: Y & N: You who know by Nicholas Freeling
Jul: B & G: No such creature by Giles Blunt
Aug: O & F: On Her Majesty's Secret Service by Ian Fleming
Sep: U & P: Unnatural Causes by P.D. James
              Monk's-Hood by Ellis Peters
Oct: A & V: The Voice of the Violin by Andrea Camilleri
Nov: L & Q: Don't cry, Tai Lake by Xiaolong Qiu
Dec: J & R
Year-Long Z: The Zig Zag Girl by Elly Griffiths
Year-Long X: Don't cry, Tai Lake by Xiaolong Qiu

Edited: Nov 5, 2017, 7:25pm Top


January - Classics: Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
February - Debut books: Harry Potter and the sorceror's stone by J.K. Rowling
March - Genre, Mystery from ALA Reading List: The Cruellest Month by Louise Penny
April - Biography/memoir: Brown girl dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
May - Women in the arts: Heart of a stranger by Margaret Laurence
June - Professional women: Angela Merkel: Europe's most influential leader by Matthew Qvortrup
July - Women of colour: How does a single blade of grass thank the sun? by Doretta Lau
August - Historical fiction/non-fiction: An Incomplete Revenge by Jacqueline Winspear
September - Children's books: The Sea of Adventure by Enid Blyton
October - Regional writing: Treading Water by Anne DeGrace
November - LGBQ/Feminist writing: The Evening Chorus by Helen Humphreys

Edited: Nov 18, 2017, 1:43pm Top


January: Family Album by Penelope Lively - Costa shortlist 2009
February: Unless by Carol Shields - Canada Reads nominee 2011
March: Pardonable Lies by Jacqueline Winspear - Macavity Award 2006
April: An available man by Hilma Wolitzer - IMPAC long list 2014
May: Faithful Place by Tana French - Edgar nominee 2011
        The Vegetarian by Han Kang - Man Booker International prize 2016
June: Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi - PEN longlist 2017
        Another Brooklyn: a novel by Jacqueline Woodson - National Book award (finalist 2016)
July: Do not say we have nothing by Madeleine Thien - Bailey's shortlist 2017
August: The narrow road to the deep north by Richard Flanagan - Miles Franklin shortlist 2014
September: Saturday by Ian McEwan - Booker long list 2005
October: We'll all be burnt in our beds some night by Joel Thomas Hynes - Giller Prize long list 2017
November: Buffalo Jump: a woman's travels by Rita Moir Van City Book Prize (2000) & Hubert Evans Non-Fiction Prize finalist (2000)

Edited: Nov 9, 2017, 1:18am Top


January - Search and Rescue:
        The art detective: fakes, frauds, and finds and the search for lost treasures by Philip Mould
February - Mine, Yours, Ours:
        Three weeks with my brother by Nicholas Sparks, Micah Sparks
        For your eyes only: Ian Fleming and James Bond by Ben Macintyre
March - The Luck o' the Irish
        An Irish Country Girl by Patrick Taylor
April - Love in the Stacks
        The Ides of June: a mystery set in Roman Britain by Rosemary Rowe
May - All About Mom
        Death of a dreamer by M.C. Beaton
June - Step into the Unknown:
        No signposts in the sea by Vita Sackville-West
July - Let's Celebrate!
        The view from Castle Rock by Alice Munro
August - Animal Kingdom
        Fifteen Dogs by Andre Alexis
        Dog Night at the Story Zoo by Dan Bar-el illustrated by Vicki Nerino Little Bee by Chris Cleave
September - Where did the time go?
        Little Bee by Chris Cleave
October: Turn on the Dark
        We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
November: Traffic Jam
        The Moving Toyshop by Edmund Crispin

Edited: Jul 14, 2017, 10:46pm Top

Category: Recommendations

A rule against murder by Louise Penny

Thanks to all the Louise Penny fans who convinced me to keep going with the series.

Another great story from Louise Penny. I'm never successful in figuring out who the murderer is - actually I don't even try any more with Penny's books - because I'm concentrating on everything else: the poetry, the language, the Quebec culture, and of course the character revelations about Gamache, his family, and his team.

It took me a while to warm to Penny and Three Pines, but after I saw her interviewed on CBC where she was intelligent and charming, a lovely person in fact, I just had to give her books another try. Now I'm hooked!

Jul 15, 2017, 2:14am Top

Happy new thread! Great job on your reading so far this year!

Jul 15, 2017, 6:36am Top

Happy new thread! I've already taken several BBs from your first two threads, and no doubt I'll take some more before this thread's out!

Jul 15, 2017, 9:06am Top

>14 VivienneR: And the descriptions of food! I'm usually reading her books on the bus, so reading them on the way home from work is always an exercise in trying to quiet my rumbling stomach ;)

Happy new thread! I had a peek at your calendar category again and didn't know that Yorkshire Day was August 1. Interesting!

Jul 15, 2017, 11:42am Top

Happy new thread!

Edited: Jul 15, 2017, 1:28pm Top

>15 lkernagh: Thanks Lori, with all the BBs I get hit with, I've actually been reading more than I planned. But that's good!

>16 Jackie_K: Glad the BBs go both ways, Jackie!

>17 rabbitprincess: Definitely the best food in fiction that I've ever come across!

Maybe you'll join me in reading a Yorkshire author next month?? Yorkshire ex-pat paulcranswick over at the 75ers has been helping me identify a few.

>18 MissWatson: Thank you, Birgit!

Jul 15, 2017, 7:45pm Top

Happy New Thread! I was going to mention the food too, but rp beat me to it.

Jul 15, 2017, 8:48pm Top

>20 dudes22: Thanks, Betty. I found the Gamache series website full of interesting information - as well as recipes in the Nature of the Feast Archives - fresh lemonade for A Rule Against Murder.


My next Penny read is Bury your dead, which is accompanied by French Onion Soup in the Nature of the Feast Archives.

I can't wait to get to How the light gets in. Then I will listen to Leonard Cohen while I read.

Jul 16, 2017, 5:27pm Top

>21 VivienneR: Leonard Cohen has a beautiful voice, and that sounds like an excellent book -- I'm looking forward to your thoughts on the experience of How the light gets in. Probably a few months in the future, though, eh?

Jul 16, 2017, 8:20pm Top

I think How the Light Gets In was my favorite in the series so far. (It's the last one I read)

Jul 17, 2017, 1:31am Top

>22 pammab: The words of Cohen's song "Anthem" are intriguing:

There is a crack, a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.

Yes, I have a few to read before that one, so a few months sounds about right.

>23 dudes22: Good to hear those words!

Jul 17, 2017, 7:03pm Top

Category: Biography

Birds, art, life: a year of observation by Kyo Maclear

When Maclear found herself "unmoored" and unable to concentrate on writing, she joined a musician who had treated his artistic doldrums by birdwatching and photographing birds in Toronto. She accompanied the unnamed musician on his bird walks for one year, writing about her experience and thoughts in chapters arranged by the month, each having a motif.

At one point she speaks of "spark birds", the first time I've heard this phrase that refers to the bird that sparked personal interest. I was happy to find Audubon's spark bird was the same as mine, a phoebe. My phoebe came back year after year to build a nest on the same spot on the wall beside the door of our weekend house in a remote area of northern Alberta. Maclear goes on to consider "spark books", another intriguing topic that naturally had me thinking of what book had sparked my interest in reading.

Maclear's memoir is profound without being scholarly, gentle, but never bland. There are many moments of quiet brilliance that demanded to be recorded in my own journal. Although birds feature large, this is not a book about birds, but about life. It is an absolute jewel.

I discovered Kyo Maclear through The Fog, an Early Reviewer win that led me to The Specific Ocean, another of her children's books.

Jul 18, 2017, 4:56am Top

>25 VivienneR: That's a BB for me, it sounds great.

Jul 18, 2017, 12:28pm Top

>26 Jackie_K: I loved it, but I have to say, my husband who is a birder, thought it meh. It might be more appealing to a woman.

Jul 18, 2017, 12:30pm Top

Category: Series

The Taken by Inger Ash Wolfe

Another great mystery starring Detective Inspector Hazel Micalief that has an action-packed suspenseful ending. Wolfe has written a winning combination with a tough, tenacious female protagonist, a cast of well-developed characters, and an excellent plot. Even with Micalief's qualities there are some who consider the sixty-two year-old a dinosaur, and therefore dispensable. With her recent back surgery, she is fighting on a lot of fronts. This is a page-turner that the Canadian setting made even better. I feel like dropping by Tim's for a double-double.

Jul 19, 2017, 4:16pm Top

>25 VivienneR: that sounds right up my alley. Thanks for the rec!

Jul 19, 2017, 6:12pm Top

>29 paruline: I'm so glad. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Jul 19, 2017, 9:28pm Top

>28 VivienneR: - This series sounds fascinating. I've added the first book to my wishlist.

Jul 20, 2017, 1:11pm Top

>31 LittleTaiko: Good to start with the first in the series. I think I enjoyed The Taken even more than the first one, The Calling, so I'm really looking forward to the remaining two. I hope you enjoy it.

Edited: Jul 20, 2017, 9:11pm Top

I think I will be taking a BB for this series too. (Sigh) Another series....

ETA: Well there are only 4 so far. That's not so bad.

Jul 20, 2017, 11:29pm Top

Yes, I know how you feel. I'm thinking of doing an all-series year at Category Challenge.

Edited: Jul 21, 2017, 5:30pm Top

BingoDOG 24: Set before you were born

After the war is over by Jennifer Robson

From Canadian author, Jennifer Robson, this is more of a romance story than what I would normally choose. However, details of post-war life accurately reflected the desperate conditions for many people: demobbed men left injured, burned, shell-shocked, without pensions, and few jobs; women widowed by the war put out of work to make jobs for men. Charlotte, the main character of the story, worked as a nurse during the war and now works for an agency to help the destitute, or almost destitute families, although her help is often unwelcome and instead seen as "charity". The depiction of the first "Peace Day" was poignant, when the populace threw street parties to celebrate the Armistice of November 11th, 1918, now known as Remembrance Day.

Jul 23, 2017, 5:24pm Top

Category: CATwoman: Women of colour

How does a single blade of grass thank the sun? by Doretta Lau

This collection of short stories is different to anything I've read before. It's definitely Canadian, but new Canadian. Lau, a young Chinese-Canadian woman, writes from the perspective of an Asian millennial, with an audacious, irreverent tone while somehow remaining amiable, nice. My favourite was the first story "God Damn, How Real Is This?" where future selves harass present selves by text message. It is funny, weird, and captivating. The final story that provided the book's title was about a gang of Chinese youths menacing their Vancouver neighbourhood. Lau is smart-mouthed, wildly creative, and funny in a strange unique way. Said by blurber Rebecca Godfrey to be "the one to usher in a new era of CanLit", Lau is an author to watch.

Jul 24, 2017, 11:36pm Top

Category: AwardsCAT: Bailey's

Do not say we have nothing by Madeleine Thien

Thien's magnum opus reminded me of The Noise of Time by Julian Barnes, a fictionalized biography of Shostakovich trying to survive under the thumb of Stalin. Thien's book is an ambitious, multi-generational, multi-layered story, beginning in Vancouver but focusing on the cultural revolution in China. Thien's quiet writing belies the emotional depth of a story that describes people trying to endure and retain their human spirit through their love of music and art. It is advisable to pay attention because, although brilliant, this is not an easy read that has many characters and a lot happening with the risk of significant ramifications. By the time I reached the events at Tiananmen Square I was completely hooked. I wish I had known more about Chinese history and government before I started.

Edited: Jul 26, 2017, 3:32pm Top

BingoDOG 18. Author abroad

At the water's edge by Sarah Gruen Set in Scotland, by American/Canadian ex-pat author

Madeline Hyde, the rich, spoiled socialite and her similarly privileged husband, were thrown out of his family home with a reduced allowance. Oh, poor dears. Better order another bottle of champagne.

A search for the Loch Ness monster combined with a WWII setting, sounded like a good read. Despite a terrible beginning, I stayed with it, hoping for improvement. With about 30 pages left, I've suffered enough and will count this as "read".

Jul 28, 2017, 11:07am Top

Trying to catch up on threads, an endless task, like laundry, but much more enjoyable... From your last thread I took a BB for His Bloody Project and although I collect Virago Modern Classics, I have none by Margaret Laurence and must rectify that!

>34 VivienneR: This is a series focused year for me, but I'm not making as much progress as I planned because I'm regularly pulled in by the various CATS and KITS! Good luck to you if you plan on it next year. I think I will continue my series focus next year - even if I don't do any better than this year, I will still be chipping away at my series.

Jul 28, 2017, 3:04pm Top

>39 LisaMorr: Love the comparison to laundry. My series are a bit like laundry, they just keep coming! I've been recently hit with more series BBs.

I'm sure you'll enjoy Margaret Laurence when you get around to her.

Jul 30, 2017, 2:03am Top

Category: Biography

Waging a heavy peace: a hippie dream by Neil Young

Right away I have have to say that although I own a few of Neil Young's albums, I have never been what might be called a fan. But this fun, rambling conversation - for, although one-sided, that's what it is - shows that the guy is a charmer. It's as if he created the book by recording his voice as he remembers random topics, then printed it. As well as music, he refers often to his love of model trains, cars - lots of cars - guitars, and his dedication to creating a system that will bring improved sound quality of recorded music. He is also devoted to his two sons who were born with cerebral palsy and to his daughter. Young's life has had more than his fair share of tragedy but his autobiography is sunny and refreshingly unpretentious. He often acknowledges those who helped him along the way and never has an unkind word for anyone. Now I'm a fan.

My version was an audiobook with excellent narration by Keith Carradine.

Jul 30, 2017, 3:07pm Top

Category: Mystery AlphaKIT: B & G

No such creature by Giles Blunt

Owen Maxwell became an orphan when he was a child. His only living relative, Uncle Magnus Maxwell, took charge and adopted him. Uncle Max was a wig salesman and wannabe actor, a perfect combination of occupations to prepare for a life as a con man. Before Owen begins Juilliard in September, the pair travel across the country on a string of robberies at elite parties until their successes come to the notice of a ruthless criminal who covets their loot. This is an enjoyable journey with some unsavoury characters.

Edited: Jul 31, 2017, 10:05pm Top

July Summary:

Category: Dust Collectors
The Rebel Angels by Robertson Davies 4*

Category: Recommendations
A rule against murder by Louise Penny 4*
The Specific Ocean by Kyo Maclear, illustrated by Katty Maurey 5*

Category: Series
The Taken by Inger Ash Wolfe 4*

Category: Translations
Sanaaq: an Inuit novel by Mitiarjuk Nappaaluk Inuktitut to French to English 4.5*

Category: Biography
Birds, art, life: a year of observation by Kyo Maclear 4.5*
Waging a heavy peace: a hippie dream by Neil Young 4*

Category: History/historical
Reading the bones by Gina McMurchy-Barber 4*

Category: Calendar Memos: July 1: Canada's 150th Birthday & July 4, mine
Running in the family by Michael Ondaatje 5*
Vegetarian celebrations by Nava Atlas 4*
Birthday Party by C.H.B. Kitchin 4*

Category: Mystery AlphaKIT: B & G
No such creature by Giles Blunt 3.5*

Category: CATwoman: Women of colour
How does a single blade of grass thank the sun? by Doretta Lau 4*

Category: AwardsCAT: Bailey's
Do not say we have nothing by Madeleine Thien

Category: RandomCAT: Let's Celebrate
The view from Castle Rock by Alice Munro 4.5*

24. After the war is over by Jennifer Robson 3.5*
18. At the water's edge by Sarah Gruen 1*

Read in July: 17
Read year-to-date: 112
A - acquired before 2015: 23 (21%)
B - acquired since 2015: 74 (66%)
C - borrowed: 15 (13%)

Of the 17 books read in July, 14 were by Canadian authors, and one by an expat. The high Canadian content was to celebrate Canada's 150th birthday on July 1st.

Jul 31, 2017, 10:52pm Top

You had an excellent CanLit month! I had noble intentions of doing a CanLit July, but that did not happen. Sigh.

Aug 1, 2017, 11:30am Top

Thank you, RP! It was a lot of fun but I had to stay focussed and banish temptation from all the BBs. You manage to fit in a lot of CanLit all year so you can pat yourself on the back.

Aug 1, 2017, 12:15pm Top

Category: Calendar Memos: August 7: British Columbia Day fulfilled by Vancouver author Linda Bailey

The tiny hero of Ferny Creek library by Linda Bailey, illustrated by Victoria Jamieson

Of all the Early Reviewer books I have received this one could be the most entertaining. But then, Tundra Books never disappoint.

Eddie is a tiny green bug who lives with his parents, various other relatives, and 53 siblings in a crack in the wall behind a classroom chalkboard. When his adventurous book-lover Aunt Min doesn't come back from a visit to the library, Eddie volunteers to set out on a search for her. After a long risky journey to the library he found Aunt Min injured, hungry and thirsty. While he tended to her, the friendly librarian went on maternity leave, only to have a nasty replacement take over and plan to close the library. This spurred the tiny hero to take action. (What this librarian would like to know is why we are always represented as very, very good or very, very evil?)

This is an absolutely charming story that most children who have advanced to chapter books will love. There are many indirect references to favourite books that create a sort of guessing game to determine which book is referenced. A "bugliography" at the end will provide answers. Eddie's many escapades would also make it an excellent choice for a book to read aloud by instalments. I will never look at a little bug again without thinking of Eddie and his Aunt Min.

Aug 2, 2017, 11:17pm Top

Category BingoDOG: 20: Debut novel

The Dry by Jane Harper

An excellent debut mystery novel set in rural Australia during extended drought conditions. Harper creates a vivid picture of the intense emotions that can be brought about by hardship. The crime took place in a small town, making it a type of locked room mystery, which was very well done. Possible culprits came to my mind, with each one being immediately replaced by another, and in the end I wasn't able to solve the mystery before the denouement. Great characters, excellent depiction of the scene and the culture, and a plot that was complex without being too convoluted. I'll watch for more by this author.

My copy was an audiobook with an excellent narration by Stephen Shanahan. Australian terms are so unfamiliar to me that I had to text an Australian friend for definitions, specifically for what sounded like "yoot" and "eski". Shame on me! I should have been able to guess.

Aug 3, 2017, 10:41pm Top

>41 VivienneR: I've always liked Neil Young's music and have a few of his albums ("Comes a Time" being my favourite). This biography sounds like a terrific read.

Aug 4, 2017, 11:00am Top

>48 mathgirl40: It was a lovely surprise. If you can get the audiobook (I got mine from OverDrive via the library) Keith Carradine does a fantastic job narrating.

Aug 6, 2017, 12:39pm Top

Category: Mystery AlphaKIT: O & F

On Her Majesty's Secret Service by Ian Fleming

One of the best James Bond stories. Not as corny as others, even though there are some cringeworthy attitudes to women and sex. However, there is no shortage of exciting action and Bond's escape on skis accompanied by an avalanche is first class.

Aug 6, 2017, 4:57pm Top

>50 VivienneR: I devoured James Bond books way back in the sixties and I particularly remember On Her Majesty's Secret Service as one of my favorites.

Aug 6, 2017, 11:57pm Top

>50 VivienneR: A few years ago, I participated in a James Bond feature hosted on lithousewife's blog: Every month, we listened to a James Bond audiobook (narrated by Simon Vance) - titles in publication order; and then got together on TweetChat to watch the corresponding movie. My favorite was actually the first, Casino Royale; and after that I like From Russia with Love (I will admit that this may be because the Bond Girl's name is Tanya! Anyway, I was always struck how every single Bond novel that Fleming wrote seemed to have something provocative, whether it was an attitude about women, Blacks, or the environment!

Aug 7, 2017, 12:11pm Top

>51 DeltaQueen50: Along with all my friends, I too devoured the James Bond books in the sixties! I've collected them again and plan to re-read the series. They are still a lot of fun.

>52 Tanya-dogearedcopy: I liked Casino Royale too! I planned to read them all in publication order but couldn't resist the double-hit for AlphaKIT! I can understand you favouring From Russia with Love with a Bond Girl named Tanya! My name just doesn't stand a chance for the job :) The adverse attitudes were widespread when Fleming wrote his books, maybe not accepted or acceptable, but definitely prevalent.

Aug 8, 2017, 11:57am Top

Category: AwardsCAT: Miles Frankin

The narrow road to the deep north by Richard Flanagan

Japan forced hundreds of thousands of WWII POWs and South Asian workers to build the Burma death railway. The main part of this story describes in graphic detail what Australian POWs endured, said to be a tribute to the author's father who was one of them. Although Dorrigo Evans, a serial womanizer pre-war and post-war, was hardly a credit to the memory of Flanagan senior. Maybe the personal link caused Flanagan to lose focus, creating a book that I found to be overdone, over-written, with too much philosophizing - a book that strives too hard to be profound. Cliché, repetitive, and with passages that sound good but are meaningless: "You could go to war with the world, but the world would always win."

Edited: Aug 8, 2017, 7:50pm Top

Category: Calendar Memos: August 1, Yorkshire Day

Not the end of the world by Kate Atkinson

Not being able to wait for Kate Atkinson's next book, I found this wonderful collection of short stories published in 2002. It has to be the find of my year. This is mythology as it applies to modern life. Filled with loosely connected stories that are absolute jewels, it's the kind of book that makes the reader want to start over again at the beginning as soon as the last page has been read. This brilliant collection gets the full five stars!

Aug 10, 2017, 1:57am Top

Category: RandomCAT: Animal Kingdom

Fifteen Dogs by Andre Alexis

In a Toronto tavern, Hermes and Apollo have made a bet that if animals were given human intelligence they would be more unhappy than humans. In a nearby veterinary clinic there are fifteen dogs, who provide a convenient test study.

Alexis appears to point at human frailties in his story, such as when Apollo, intoxicated with his divinity allows "parts of himself to be touched by an older man in a business suit" in the tavern’s washroom. A pleasure that cost the man eight years. Or when Majnoun discusses topics such as same-sex relationships, religion, or what happiness is, with his new human companion, Nira.

It is tempting to make comparisons to Animal Farm, but this fable is quite different from Orwell's. Alexis' message might be slippery, ambiguous, but he tells a wonderful story and the characters of the dogs are finished to perfection.

Apollo and Hermes have a lot to answer for.

Each of the dog poems has the name of one of the dogs hidden in the lines, a type of poetry created by François Caradec that has significance to both humans and dogs.

As well as other awards Fifteen Dogs won the Giller Prize in 2015. I read it at this time to remember Jack Rabinovitch, founder of the Giller Prize who died a few days ago.

Aug 10, 2017, 4:34am Top

>56 VivienneR: I got Fifteen Dogs for my birthday a couple of months ago, and it is next on the pile once I have finished my current RandomCAT read. I am really looking forward to it.

Aug 10, 2017, 1:06pm Top

>57 Jackie_K: Excellent! I'll look forward to your opinion.

I thought of you when reading Not the end of the world by Atkinson. She was born in Yorkshire (hence my Yorkshire Day calendar choice) but many of the stories are set in, or mention Scotland and Scottish "horizontal" rain.

Aug 10, 2017, 2:15pm Top

>58 VivienneR: Ooh thank you - I shall have to add that to the burgeoning wishlist! I have only read one novel by her (Behind the Scenes at the Museum) and that was a million years ago, but I remember really enjoying it.

Aug 10, 2017, 6:22pm Top

>55 VivienneR: - Would have taken a BB on that one but apparently it was already on my wishlist. I'll have to actively try to read it soon.

Aug 10, 2017, 8:23pm Top

>59 Jackie_K: I've enjoyed everything I've read by Atkinson. Behind the scenes at the museum was my first, the one that hooked me.

>60 LittleTaiko: A reminder is as good as a BB.

Edited: Aug 16, 2017, 1:39am Top

Category: Recommendations

Restless by William Boyd BB from Ameise1

In 1976 Sally Gilmartin discloses secrets about her origins to her daughter Ruth. Sally, a Russian émigré named Eva Declectorskaya, became involved in the world of espionage during the war. She's been hiding in a quiet life since she escaped the group, and now over thirty years later fears that someone is watching her. Ruth had no idea of her mother's Russian background or the espionage, and wonders if her mother is losing her mind. The story alternates between Sally's intrepid, perilous story and Ruth's, a single mother, English tutor, and academic, living a lifestyle so ordinary that the difference is clearly startling. Boyd's plot sounds implausible, but as the story progresses it becomes credible. He maintains the pace right to the end. He also conveys both eras so skillfully that the reader can slip from one to the other with ease.

Verbose authors should take note: Boyd covers an elaborate story and the well-drawn characters concisely, without waffling or padding, and leaves the reader feeling like they have just had more. Well written and very enjoyable.

Aug 19, 2017, 4:07pm Top

Category: CATwoman: Historical fiction/non-fiction

An Incomplete Revenge by Jacqueline Winspear

An expressive story set in the post-WWI years that takes Maisie Dobbs to the hop gardens of Kent, filled with London families spending the summer picking hops and redolent of an English summer. Although the solution to the mystery is abhorrent, it is more a story of the times and traditions than a mystery. It is particularly poignant considering that another war was in the making. One of the more enjoyable stories from Winspear.

Aug 20, 2017, 7:21pm Top

Category: Series

Love over Scotland by Alexander McCall Smith

This series, my favourite from McCall Smith, gently lampoons the residents of Scotland Street, Edinburgh. The characters are delightful caricatures who entertain royally, especially Bertie, the six-year-old prodigy. It's easy to miss the author's considerable expertise amid the droll humour. Very enjoyable.

Edited: Aug 21, 2017, 1:25am Top

This was my latest Early Reviewer win that just happens to fit this category. Only 3 stars.

Category: RandomCAT: Animal Kingdom

Dog Night at the Story Zoo by Dan Bar-el illustrated by Vicki Nerino

In this graphic novel aimed at a young audience, four dogs tell their stories in a sort of after hours comedy club where animals congregate after the humans go to bed. It seems a bit mature for young children and I imagine middle grades might appreciate the humour more. The stories are entertaining but sadly the art is less appealing, giving the animals, and humans, very little expression.

Aug 21, 2017, 9:47pm Top

Category: Mystery AlphaKIT: Z

The Zig Zag Girl by Elly Griffiths

Griffiths' new series features Edgar Stephens and Max Mephisto. Set in 1950 Brighton when variety shows on the pier were still popular, a group who were together in special ops during the war are now three magicians and a policeman, still friends. When a woman's body in three pieces turns up, suggesting the famous zig-zag girl trick gone wrong, the group are warned that they are the target. This is an excellent mystery that portrays the theatre business of the 1950s with authenticity: the seedy grandeur of the theatres, the performers who have a different landlady each week, the acts themselves that are now long gone. Entertaining enough to be classed as a cozy yet the nature of the crime gave it more gravity, the plot was complex, the characters well-drawn, and the conclusion satisfyingly exciting. Griffiths did her research well and deserves the place on my favourite mystery writers list.

Aug 21, 2017, 10:21pm Top

>69 Sounds like a good one, Vivienne. I will look forward to it.

Aug 22, 2017, 12:48am Top

>70 Hope you enjoy it as much as I did, Judy.

Aug 24, 2017, 1:49pm Top

>50 VivienneR: - That happens to be my favorite James Bond story, too.

>56 VivienneR: - I was very sad when I read about Rabinovitch's passing.

>67 DeltaQueen50: - Glad to see you have been finding it enjoyable.I am planning on reading the 44 Scotland Street series after I finish making my way through his No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series.

>69 lkernagh: - That one looks good!

Aug 24, 2017, 2:39pm Top

>72 Hi Lori, nice to see you dropping by. You'll enjoy the 44 Scotland Street series. It's more of a satire than the Ladies Detective Agency series, and funnier in my opinion.

Elly Griffiths has another series that I'm looking forward to trying. The Ruth Galloway series seems to be even more popular than the one I read.

Aug 26, 2017, 8:48pm Top

>69 lkernagh: - That's another BB for me. This is the first year I've really tracked where I'm getting book recommendations and you are in the lead from LT recommendations!

Aug 26, 2017, 10:19pm Top

>74 I'm delighted to hear it! Some wonderful books have come my way recently, so I'm glad to share. Although, I must really do a better job of keeping track of who is recommending my books. I'm a great list-maker and have notes in all my lists but not in one spot where I can count or compare.

>72 VivienneR: Lori, I forgot to respond to your comment on Rabinovitch's passing. It was particularly sad to hear that the cause was a tragic fall.

Aug 27, 2017, 2:49pm Top

>75 - The method that I finally found that works for me is to have a shelf on Goodreads for each person that I get a recommendation from. Prior to that I was horrible at remembering whose review I had read that prompted me to want to read a book in the first place.

Aug 28, 2017, 8:36am Top

I made a collection here called "Recommended by LT" and put a comment in the comments field on who, what year and the post # where I took the BB.

Aug 28, 2017, 1:37pm Top

>76 I usually put a not in the "private comments" field but of course that only works if the book is in my LT wishlist. I keep a spreadsheet that includes a list of recommendations that are available from the library, and a list that I plan to buy, etc. This doesn't work well because half of them I've already borrowed or bought. It seems the best plan is to add them all to my LT wishlist with the source of the recommendation. This will be my middle-of-the-year resolution!

>77 What a brilliant idea to put the post # in the comment! I have spent so much time searching for the person or post of the BB originator. Another middle-of-the-year resolution!

Thank you both!

Aug 28, 2017, 1:40pm Top

Category: History/historical

Atonement by Ian McEwan

McEwan's writing is outstanding. He begins the story in the past, at a family gathering in 1935, then jumps ahead to WWII. His account of events at Dunkirk were graphic but the description of nursing that followed was, if anything, more horrific. And then comes the astonishing conclusion. Well-deserving of all the accolades.

Aug 30, 2017, 1:47pm Top

Category: Translations

The Snack Thief by Andrea Camilleri

Montalbano can be so annoying, so ill-mannered, it is remarkable he accomplishes anything. And there has never been a couple so incompatible as Montalbano and Livia. A fun tale, but this one didn't appeal as much as others in the series.

Aug 31, 2017, 3:22pm Top

Category: Dust Collectors

In a Dry Season by Peter Robinson 4★

In this early novel, DCI Banks is in "career Siberia", an unspoken discipline for past infractions. Chief Constable Riddle gives him what appears to be a dead-end case as a further sign of ill-will. A skeleton has been found in a village that has been flooded to form a reservoir for the past fifty years and is now dried up. His sidekick is DS Annie Cabbot, who because of her past record with the police, is regarded as another kind of punishment for Banks. The story is told in alternating parts: the modern investigation and the account of one of the principal characters of the crime scene. It was an interesting look back at Yorkshire in wartime and the modern understanding of the times.

Aug 31, 2017, 10:41pm Top

Category: Biography

Screamin' Jay Hawkins' greatest hits by Mark Binelli

A fictionalized biography of Screamin' Jay Hawkins (1929-2000), the singer famous for the legendary song I Put a Spell on You. An early interest in opera may have sparked the idea for his presentation of the song by entering the stage in a coffin carried by six white-gloved pallbearers. Although choppy and not particularly well-written, Binelli does a decent job of depicting the life of this weird performer.

My daughter-in-law passed this one on to me otherwise it would not have come to my attention.

Edited: Aug 31, 2017, 10:48pm Top

August Summary:

Category: Dust Collectors
In a Dry Season by Peter Robinson 4★

Category: Recommendations
Restless by William Boyd 4★

Category: Series
Love over Scotland by Alexander McCall Smith 4★

Category: Translations
The Snack Thief by Andrea Camilleri 3★

Category: Biography
Screamin' Jay Hawkins' greatest hits by Mark Binelli 2.5★

Category: History/historical
Atonement by Ian McEwan 4.5★

Category: Calendar Memos:
August 7: B.C Day The tiny hero of Ferny Creek library by Linda Bailey 5★
August 1: Yorkshire Day Not the end of the world by Kate Atkinson 5★
August 12: International Youth Day Solace of the road by Siobhan Dowd 4★

Category: Mystery AlphaKIT: O & F & Z
On Her Majesty's Secret Service by Ian Fleming 4★
The Zig Zag Girl by Elly Griffiths 4.5★

Category: CATwoman: Historical fiction/non-fiction
An Incomplete Revenge by Jacqueline Winspear 4★

Category: AwardsCAT: Miles Frankin
The narrow road to the deep north by Richard Flanagan 2.5★

Category: RandomCAT: Animal Kingdom
Fifteen Dogs by Andre Alexis 4★
Dog Night at the Story Zoo by Dan Bar-el illustrated by Vicki Nerino 3★

Category BingoDOG:
20. The Dry by Jane Harper 4.5★

Read in August 16
Read year-to-date 128
A - acquired before 2015: 28 (22%)
B - acquired since 2015: 84 (66%)
C - borrowed: 16 (13%)

Sep 2, 2017, 8:45pm Top

I just finished In a Dry Season and thought it the best I've read of the Banks series.

Sep 3, 2017, 11:18am Top

I agree. The alternating stories and times were done well. And the look back to WWII was interesting.

Sep 3, 2017, 1:50pm Top

Category: AwardsCAT: Man Booker

Saturday by Ian McEwan

This is the story of one day, Saturday, in the life of Henry Perowne, neurosurgeon, a well-drawn, convincing character. The story would not have worked on any other day of the week, because Saturday is the day filled with plans that can't be fitted into the working week: a squash game, a protest march, a visit to mother. The author does a fine job of letting the reader inside Perowne's head to see how he considers life in close-up. A description of his squash game might have been dull but instead it was interesting to see how the game developed and compared with the events of the day.

McEwan's story dips into many topics: politics, literature, music, war, surgery, family relationships, aging, and morality. It was a thought-provoking story that I enjoyed, especially the ending, where the topic of morality played a part. However, it is McEwan's beautiful prose that is the real draw for me: his words pour onto the paper like honey. But why do I always think he writes with the Booker prize in mind?

Sep 3, 2017, 2:18pm Top

>86, lol, you hit on my exact problem with McEwan. I always feel like he's working too hard to make his books literary and prize-worthy. I remember the second time I had to read Atonement for a class--it drove me crazy how many people were picking out various things, saying 'I know this means something, because it shows up so much, it has to! But what?'--whereas my opinion was that he was putting in some of the patterns just to give academics and grad. students something to puzzle over, to make his work more literary. Too often, I feel the same way about his endings, that they're built to be literary rather than finish a story naturally :(

Sep 3, 2017, 3:18pm Top

>87 Exactly! It seems to me that Booker prize always goes to a certain type of novel. I remember reading a novel about a writer who tried to create a Booker winner by writing her novel in the style of previous winners, the same story each time, different styles. It was very funny but only if you'd read the (real) authors she was imitating. McEwan would have given her plenty of ammunition.

Sep 4, 2017, 7:38pm Top

>79 VivienneR: and >86 lkernagh: - I know McEwan' stories are not to every reader's tastes, but, like you, I also love his writing!

Sep 4, 2017, 7:55pm Top

>89 That's how I feel too, Lori. Even if there are some iffy parts, his beautiful sentences make up for everything.

Sep 4, 2017, 7:57pm Top

Category: Mystery AlphaKIT: U & P

Unnatural Causes by P.D. James

I enjoyed P.D. James more the first time I read her novels. This one particularly is quite old-fashioned in style: the eccentric characters are a bit over the top, the denouement long, and Dalgliesh has not yet settled into his character. Still, you can't go wrong with a mystery by James.

And I have already started Monk's Hood by Ellis Peters.

Sep 5, 2017, 2:20pm Top

Category: Mystery AlphaKIT: U & P

Monk's-Hood by Ellis Peters

A mystery set in the year 1138. Brother Cadfael, a monk in charge of herbal remedies in the Abbey makes inquiries when one of those remedies was used for murder. His investigation is humane and charitable, following the tenet of his order. A satisfying whodunnit, with the added interest of a background setting in the Middle Ages.

Sep 6, 2017, 2:43pm Top

>92 Oh, I do love the Cadfael series! Haven't revisited Monk's Hood in a while, but the previous book, One Corpse Too Many, is one of my favorites!

Sep 6, 2017, 8:34pm Top

>93 It's been a while since I read that one (and enjoyed it) so it might be time for a re-read!

Sep 8, 2017, 11:24pm Top

Category: Calendar Memos: Labour Day

A Question of Proof by Quentin Blake

Labour Day is, for most kids in this part of the world, the last day of the summer school holidays and most go back to school the next day. This book is set in a school and the proceeds paid for Blake's roof repairs - the "labour" link.

Somehow I expected more from the Poet Laureate as a mystery writer. It's OK as a story, but drawn out too much and some of it was pretty silly. When the amateur sleuth tells the detective on the phone "I know who the murderer is. I'll tell you tomorrow" he was lucky he wasn't the next victim. The characters were one-dimensional and scarcely believable. I'll be generous and give it three stars, but it barely deserves that.

Sep 9, 2017, 12:57pm Top

>95 Oh dear, I think I liked A Question of Proof more than you did, Vivienne. I do remember that I expected it to be more "literary" than it was, but as the author churned out the mysteries simply for the money, he obviously saved his literary genius for his poetry.

Sep 10, 2017, 12:51am Top

>96 I'm glad you liked it. It looked like a sure thing for me because I love those old mysteries, but my enjoyment went down as I read. I didn't like the sleuth Nigel Strangeways, and would probably have rated it higher if he'd been absent. And I had trouble remembering who was who, a bad sign. However, I finished it, a good sign.

Maybe it was just wrong book, wrong time.

Sep 10, 2017, 11:35pm Top

>92 VivienneR: Cadfael! I didn't realize the series was set in the Middle Ages. I'll have to pick one up -- I am a sucker for historical fiction and for not-gritty whoddunits and for light reads. It's your "monk in charge of herbal remedies" that caught my attention here -- sounds fun!

Sep 11, 2017, 12:50am Top

>98 Glad to have been of help. Cadfael is an old favourite of mine - and many others around here. He's an older monk, was on the crusades, and sometimes doesn't stay strictly within the rules of the Abbey.

Edited: Sep 25, 2017, 1:08am Top

Category: Calendar Memos: International Peace Day, September 21

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

Not celebrating peace, but a reminder of how precious peace is and how heart-breakingly destructive war and intolerance can be. Set in Seattle soon after the attack on Pearl Harbor, it's a very moving story about how the Japanese Internment program destroyed communities and crushed friendships. The author tells the story without laying blame or making judgment.

Sep 12, 2017, 2:00pm Top

Category: CATwoman: Childrens & YA literature

The Sea of Adventure by Enid Blyton

It was such a treat to re-visit my childhood with Enid Blyton. The Adventure series was one of my favourite and this one did not disappoint.

Sep 12, 2017, 2:05pm Top

Oh, I loved the Adventure series too. Occasionally I've seen hardback copies at Barter Books, but they're really expensive so I haven't indulged in case I was disappointed (I'm re-reading another childhood favourite at the moment, and I'm just not feeling it with this one). But I'm tempted again now you've said it wasn't disappointing!

Edited: Sep 12, 2017, 2:17pm Top

>102 When my son was about seven years old I introduced him to the Adventure series and he loved them. And now that he's too old for children's books he buys them for me! He dropped by yesterday and we both enjoyed looking through this one and reminiscing. In this series my favourite was The Island of Adventure, his was The Castle of Adventure.

Sep 12, 2017, 4:01pm Top

BingoDOG #10: Short Stories

Witness for the prosecution and other stories by Agatha Christie

This was an audiobook with excellent narration by Christopher Lee and Hugh Fraser. Although I'm not a fan of short stories, I've been following Christie since I was a pre-teen, and found this was a great way to "read" her short stories, especially Witness for the Prosecution, which I have previously only read as a play.

Sep 12, 2017, 5:19pm Top

I am happy that you re-visted one of your childhood favorites, Vivienne. I know that I read the Adventure series but for some reason the Famous Five are the ones that stand out in my memory.

Sep 12, 2017, 7:27pm Top

>105 It was the cover image you placed at the top of September's CatWoman post that inspired me to read it. Thanks Judy, it was great fun.

Sep 12, 2017, 10:10pm Top

Category: Translations

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

This is a story written with a childlike innocence that leads some people to believe it is a children's book. In fact, it is a parable suitable for any age group because each reader will get something different from this wonderful, thought-provoking, inventive, dreamy story. It's a perfect jewel.

Sep 15, 2017, 4:19pm Top

I know I'm going against the grain with this one but the more I think of the book, the more I dislike it.

Category: Biography

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

Louis Zamperini was a rambunctious youngster who discovered he could run fast. After running in the 1936 Olympics, he was on his way to a career as an athlete when war intervened. As a bombardier in the Army Air Corps, his plane was shot down over the Pacific, and with two others, he remained floating on the ocean in a raft for 47 days before landing on a Japanese island. Although drawn out too much, this part was the most interesting. However, after capture, his problems became worse. It's a story that should not be forgotten but there is no redeeming quality in relating the torture at such length. In parts, Hillenbrand suggests the concept that Americans are good, Japanese are bad (except one Japanese, a "Christian" who was good). The bias is especially noticeable in the casualty figures she quotes, statistics that say nothing about the Japanese casualties in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, all civilians. In fact she makes the claim that those bombs saved the lives of prisoners by avoiding a "kill all” order. No one can accurately say what would have happened.

I kept ploughing through it but it's difficult to understand the rave reviews the book has garnered. Hillenbrand's writing is pedestrian and without the nuances of a natural storyteller. The very nature of the story was distressing, but particularly protracted description of torture. A good writer knows that this type of detail is unnecessary to get the point across. As well, Hillenbrand includes information that could not possibly be known by anyone, adding a fictional element. And although I'm glad Zamperini found some relief from his misery, the crowning annoyance was the "born again" ending, reinforcing the American (read Christian) good, Japanese bad. I do not recommend this to anyone.

Edited: Sep 18, 2017, 9:27pm Top

>108 You and I both read the same book last week! I had a slightly different take, and liked it more than you did. While I rolled my eyes at Louie Zamperini' Born Again Christian conversion, I did not see it set up as a contrast to the Japanese ethos, just part of LZ's life and how he was able to move on. I read a NY Times Book Review of the biography written when it first came out in 2010; and their complaint was that in relying on the interviews and conversations that Hillenbrand had with LZ, she didn't dig deeper than the patina of time had layered over LZ's memory; and as a result, missed an opportunity to to create a deeper psychological profile of the man. I thought the redemption section, when it came to Louie's life wasn't as tight as the pervious sections; and overall, the book not as good as Seabiscuit: An American Legend; but still a recommendable NF title.

EDIT: For some reason, LT won't let me touchstone Seabiscuit: An American Legend on this post :-/

Sep 18, 2017, 6:44pm Top

>109 What a coincidence that we both read the book simultaneously! Isn't it great that we all get something different from a book?

For me, there were a number of little picky things that bothered as I read, but gradually they got more frequent. And you are right, Hillenbrand missed a chance to create a deeper profile of Zamperini, who was a memorable person. I would have enjoyed that more. Instead it came across as a transcription of notes. If the "born again" section hadn't finished it for me, the statistics would have done. Her remarks that I took to be justification for bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki belongs in a book of its own, not in this one. I just can't see that they "saved lives".

I gave up on Seabiscuit quite early in the book when it looked like there was going to be some abuse of the horse - or at least some very sad scenes. For the same reason I had to abandon Black Beauty and other animal books.

(Touchstone looks ok now.)

Sep 20, 2017, 3:29pm Top

Category: History/historical

The Baker's Secret by Stephen P. Kiernan

Kiernan's novel is set in a small village in Normandy in the months leading up to D-Day, June 6, 1944, when the people of France were living under Nazi occupation. The apprentice baker, Emma suffers immense losses and witnesses unimaginable cruelty but despite this, she resolves to do her best for her grandmother and friends while remaining sceptical of a rescue from Allied forces. She is given an extra ration of flour to make twelve baguettes for the Nazi soldiers, but by adding ground straw she is able to save enough flour to make two extra loaves for starving villagers. Combined with other innovative ways to procure food this modest young woman helps her neighbours endure the unendurable, at considerable risk to herself.

Although she accomplished much in the way of helping villagers survive, when the allied invasion comes about, she is overwhelmed by the losses incurred just so that her people can live freely. It's a heartbreakingly familiar story, but Kiernan's writing style has a poetic quality that conveys something extra, more like a parable. It is beautifully written, thought-provoking and memorable.

My thanks to mysterymax for the book bullet.

Sep 20, 2017, 5:39pm Top

>111 - Sounds like something I'd like - BB.

Sep 20, 2017, 9:09pm Top

>99 Jackie_K: I love Cadfael too, though I was first introduced to the character through the excellent TV series with Derek Jacobi. I've only read a few of the books but would like to read more.

Sep 20, 2017, 10:37pm Top

>112 It was beautifully written. I'm sure you'd like it.

>113 Cadfael is wonderful. I too was introduced to him by the TV series. I tried an audiobook narrated by Derek Jacobi, thinking it would be perfect, but strangely it disappointed. Not sure if it was the story or Jacobi that didn't live up to expectations.

Edited: Sep 21, 2017, 11:39pm Top

Category: Series

The Likeness by Tana French

I've been reading French's series out of order. The Likeness, which precedes the previously read Faithful Place, also features the character Frank Mackey. I hardly recognized him in this book, he seemed such a different character here. I assume it was because I read a print version of Faithful Place, whereas this one was an audiobook. Not that there was anything wrong with the narration, just the opposite, but Frank Mackey's personality was closer to that of Reginald Hill's Dalziel. The far-fetched plot requires the reader to suspend belief but French gives the unconvincing nature of the story enough credibility to make it work. It's a fine psychological mystery with plenty of twists. My only complaint is that it was a tad long.

Sep 22, 2017, 10:17pm Top

Category: Dust Collectors

The Religious Body by Catherine Aird

The first Inspector Sloan mystery from Aird although it's not necessary to read the series in order. This is a light mystery, with Sloan having to deal with the unfamiliar religious community when a nun is murdered. His boss is another trial, even more difficult to handle than the inhabitants of the convent. The book was written in 1966 and although it's showing its age in the dated attitudes of the characters, it remains a decent afternoon's entertainment.

Sep 23, 2017, 9:04am Top

>115 I hadn't thought about Mackey resembling Dalziel, but I can see the comparison! He appears in The Secret Place as well.

Edited: Sep 23, 2017, 10:47pm Top

>117 Somehow in Faithful Place I didn't see that side of his character. I think the audiobook narrator emphasized or brought out the Dalziel quality in him. I liked him both ways so it didn't really matter, but I was well into the book before I realized that we'd "met" before.

Sep 24, 2017, 2:02pm Top

Category: BingoDOG #1: A Satire

The Third Policeman by Flann O'Brien

What a strange, abstract tale, beautifully crafted, but one I find impossible to describe. Was it clever or crazy? I'm still not sure of that, but the Irish wit was simply glorious. I was delighted to hear old Irish words that until now I've only heard my grandmother use. My copy is an audiobook with outstanding narration by Jim Norton.

Sep 25, 2017, 1:06am Top

Category: Calendar Memos: September 26: European Day of Languages

Roseanna by Maj Sjöwall & Per Wahlöö

I'm not sure if the problem was with the original text or the translation but the prose is poor, very dry and blunt, however, the story progressed quickly. It's an interesting look back on police methods - that is, if any of the procedures can be assumed as anywhere close to authentic. Thankfully, techniques have improved. And what a difference modern communications have made. Not bad, I'll read more Sjöwall.

Edited: Sep 29, 2017, 1:54am Top

Category: RandomCAT: Where did the time go?

Little Bee by Chris Cleave

An event on a Nigerian beach has inextricably linked Little Bee with Sarah and Andrew O'Rourke, an English couple. The story opens with the asylum seeker, Little Bee, being mistakenly released without papers after being incarcerated in an English detention centre for two years. She sets out in search of the couple she met on the beach. Alternating between Little Bee's account and Sarah's the whole story unfolds. While written with compassion, Cleave has injected it with a mildly melodramatic quality that reveals his fervour. However, without judgement of either side, he illustrates powerfully what a refugee might be running from, what they suffer in the attempt, and the potential consequences. Cleave's portrayal of Little Bee is excellent. She retains her Nigerian way of thinking (always considering how she would explain a particular scene to her friends at home) while simultaneously trying to adapt to English life. She is charming and astute beyond her sixteen years.

Cleave's first-hand knowledge of the subject matter was earned during his time studying at Oxford when he worked in a detention centre.

"Life is precious, whatever its country of origin."

Sep 27, 2017, 10:30pm Top

Category: BingoDOG: #4 Set in a place you want to visit

I let you go by Clare Mackintosh

Chilling. I don't usually bother trying to work out whodunnit, but I didn't need to try for this one because the plot was obvious from very early on so it was just a matter of letting it play out.

Domestic abuse is not a topic I read, and although this novel was a page-turner, the details were so harrowing that I stopped reading with about forty pages remaining. It will take someone braver than I to finish it.

Sep 30, 2017, 2:08am Top

Category: BingoDOG 2: In a country you've never been to

The Sunday Hangman by James McClure

This is a decent mystery from South Africa written in 1977 when Apartheid was still in effect. The racism was outrageous yet accepted as normal by everyone.

Oct 2, 2017, 1:09pm Top

Category: Recommendations

One Fine Day by Mollie Panter-Downes

Set in 1946, the story follows Laura Marshall through one day of her life, a life that has been forever changed by war. The social structure has changed dramatically, one-time servants have moved on to more lucrative employment elsewhere leaving owners of grand homes having to look after themselves. Laura will adjust, although her mother and her husband may have some difficulties. Panter-Downes describes a new order that has been accepted, however reluctantly, and the future is looking generally optimistic. This memorable portrayal of an ordinary day evokes the time faultlessly.

The bookbullet originated from discussion at the All Virago, All August thread over on the Virago Modern Classics group.

Edited: Oct 2, 2017, 1:26pm Top

My September Summary:

Category: Dust Collectors
The Religious Body by Catherine Aird 3.5★

Category: Recommendations
One Fine Day by Mollie Panter-Downes 5★

Category: Series
The Likeness by Tana French 3.5★

Category: Translations
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry 5★

Category: Biography
Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand 2★

Category: History/historical
The Baker's Secret by Stephen P. Kiernan 5★

Category: Calendar Memos
Labour Day A Question of Proof by Quentin Blake 3★
International Peace Day: Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford 4★
European Day of Languages Roseanna by Maj Sjöwall & Per Wahlöö 3★

Category: Mystery AlphaKIT: U & P
Unnatural Causes by P.D. James 3.5★
Monk's-Hood by Ellis Peters 3.5★

Category: CATwoman: Childrens & YA literature
The Sea of Adventure by Enid Blyton 4★

Category: AwardsCAT: Man Booker
Saturday by Ian McEwan 4★

Category: RandomCAT: Where did the time go?
Little Bee by Chris Cleave 4★

Category: BingoDOG
#1 The Third Policeman by Flann O'Brien 4★
#10 Witness for the prosecution and other stories by Agatha Christie 4★
#4 I let you go by Clare Mackintosh 3★
#2 The Sunday Hangman by James McClure 3★

Read in September: 18
Read year-to-date: 146
A - acquired before 2015: 34 (23%)
B - acquired since 2015: 95 (65%)
C - borrowed: 17 (12%)

Oct 2, 2017, 3:59pm Top

Category: RandomCAT: Turn on the Dark

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

One of those books that grabs you from the first sentence and doesn't let go until the last page. The bucolic setting and gracious home makes the unfolding revelation of mental illness even more chilling. Excellent, highly recommended.

Oct 2, 2017, 5:46pm Top

I am hoping to get to We Have Always Lived in the Castle this month as well. I have it in audio. I did read it years ago but I'm looking forward to refreshing my memory!

Oct 2, 2017, 10:35pm Top

>127 I loved the audio! The same narrator, Bernadette Dunne, also narrates The Haunting of Hill House which is as well done!

Oct 3, 2017, 12:37am Top

>127 Mine was in audio too. Bernadette Dunn is such a good narrator, I will look for her work again.

>128 I read The Haunting of Hill House last year, but I enjoyed We Have Always Lived in the Castle much more. Maybe it was because of the excellent narration this time.

Oct 4, 2017, 5:59pm Top

Category: Calendar Memos: Oct 5, 2017 - Full Moon

Our beaver pond has not yet frozen over, but as we have a full moon, I'm putting my latest ER win in the Calendar Memos category.

When the Moon Comes by Paul Harbridge, illustrations by Matt James

For most Canadian children in rural areas, it's one of the most cherished events of the year, when the beaver pond freezes over and the hockey season begins. This group of children have made it a rule to wait for the full moon before beginning. They finish off the hockey game with tea and sandwiches by a campfire. It's an atmospheric story complemented by excellent illustrations that bring the story to life. Suitable for ages in a wide range because 10-year-olds will understand the magic while 4-year-olds will be fascinated and eager to accompany older siblings sometime or just to dream. Rich in nostalgia for an old way of life that still applies to many Canadian children, this book is outstanding. The beautiful wintery scenes combined with the topic would make this a beautiful Christmas gift.

Oct 7, 2017, 2:33am Top

Category: Recommendations

Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny

What can I say that hasn't been said before? Louise Penny just gets better with every book. I loved winter in this one, my favourite season. Although it's not necessary to appreciate the story, it is good encouragement to review Canadian history.

And it's a Hat Trick! The first three books this month have all rated five-stars!

Oct 7, 2017, 8:21am Top

>131 Woo hoo! A banner month! Glad you liked Bury Your Dead. I should reread it sometime; the history angle was really interesting.

Oct 7, 2017, 1:22pm Top

>132 Wasn't it fascinating? I was pulling the history books off the shelves. Not that they were needed but I just wanted to compare with Penny's story.

Oct 8, 2017, 11:12am Top

Category: CATwoman: Regional reading

Treading Water by Anne DeGrace

This story was inspired by the creation of a flood control and hydroelectric dam (now known as the Keenleyside Dam) built in 1968 in British Columbia. It necessitated the relocation the community of Renata, that DeGrace calls Bear Creek in her novel. She tells the story in vignettes, describing the people who lived there since two young trappers arrived in 1904 until all the residents were bought out in 1968. Some were glad to leave, others were distraught to leave homes, graves, thriving fruit-growing businesses and memories. DeGrace's novel is fiction, yet the facts are clearly woven into the story that describes a very difficult time for everyone concerned. As well as being well-written, it was interesting to read of the area I know well, as it was before dams were built.

Oct 10, 2017, 3:15pm Top

Category: AwardsCAT: Giller prize, long list 2017

We'll all be burnt in our beds some night by Joel Thomas Hynes

If you can get past the profanities, this is a heartbreaking tale tinged with black humour of young petty criminal Johnny Keough. When the girlfriend he injured - accidentally with a teapot - died of an overdose on the morning of his court case, he was suddenly off the hook instead of facing years in a federal penitentiary. Johnny decided to use the freedom to hitchhike across Canada from Newfoundland to Vancouver with the urn containing her ashes under his arm, to scatter them on a Vancouver beach she remembered from childhood.

Johnny is a long-time hardened malefactor but Hynes brings out likeable elements and we feel sympathetic toward him. He's had a brutal childhood, never experienced a role model of the positive kind, and trouble follows him like a shadow. Hynes injects this misery with a dark comic humour that keeps the story from spiralling downwards. He often shifts viewpoint from past to present, letting the reader into Johnny's head to find out how events really happened. I desperately wanted him to succeed on his monumental journey, but Johnny is the master of his own fate.

If it had been possible, I would have read this book from the acknowledged bad boy of Canadian literature in one sitting. It is coarse and ribald, but you won't forget Johnny Keough.

Oct 10, 2017, 10:33pm Top

>135 You definitely hit me with a book bullet for We'll all be burnt in our beds some night!

Edited: Oct 11, 2017, 3:02am Top

Ah, my aim was good! You would know the beach Johnny was heading for. A biblical name? Something like Jeremiah?

ETA: Of course, Hynes didn't actually mention Jericho Beach.

Oct 11, 2017, 3:03am Top

Category: Dust Collectors

The Critic by Peter May

There is a lot about wine-making and tasting, not so much about solving a murder. It's a tedious story, much weaker than others in the series.

Oct 13, 2017, 3:48pm Top

Category: Mystery AlphaKIT: A & V

The Voice of the Violin by Andrea Camilleri

It is sad that Montalbano and Livia will not get their adopted son but this might be good because I still see this couple as completely mismatched - and the child is obviously happy where he is. Montalbano is a free spirit as far as detection is concerned, and must always leave time to appreciate the finer things in life, like excellent coffee and gourmet food. Not a bad mystery although I spotted his early mistake right away when he omitted to search the car, an obvious course of action in the circumstances

Oct 14, 2017, 3:50pm Top

Category: History/historical

Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club by Dorothy L. Sayers

Sayers portrays the time so well, in this case Armistice Day, 1928: young men were still suffering shell-shock while the elder gentry snoozed in clubs. Peter Wimsey is a wonderful character, intelligent, compassionate and observant, the perfect qualities for a sleuth. Everyone melts in his presence. This is a good mystery story, of course, but the characters, setting, and Sayers' writing make this a winner.

Oct 17, 2017, 5:31pm Top

My husband spotted this at the library and brought it home for me, knowing I'd be interested.

Category: Biography

The Final Curtsey: A Royal Memoir by the Queen's Cousin by Margaret Rhodes

Rhodes is the niece of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother. and therefore first cousin to the Queen. In this memoir, which reads like a history of the 20th century, told with a back-room viewpoint so to speak. Her book is a quick light read, written in a captivating conversational style, and all the while portraying the Royal family from a personal perspective.

Among serious topics, she recounts some funny anecdotes such as when she was registering the Queen Mother's death, the registrar was filling in the form: ”At a certain point, she fixed me with a beady eye and asked, 'Right, what was the husband's occupation?' It seemed a superfluous question; however, after a second's hesitation, I answered, 'King'."

Edited: Oct 18, 2017, 4:31pm Top

Category: Recommendations

Cleopatra: a life by Stacy Schiff

Until reading this book I knew little about Cleopatra beyond the word on the street, which is based more on Elizabeth Taylor's portrayal than on Cleopatra. Schiff's meticulous biography is fascinating. She covers all kinds of detail: life, culture, medicine, politics, government, warfare, and education. She also describes a lavish opulence that is - and was at the time - astonishing. But what Schiff does best is to disparage the image of Cleopatra as a wicked temptress, instead showing the reader a more credible picture of a remarkably intelligent woman and powerful monarch who brought prosperity to her country. This is a compelling book with balanced opinions that I will keep to read again, and for reference. Highly recommended.

"Her power has been made to derive from her sexuality... It has always been preferable to attribute a woman's success to her beauty rather than to her brains, to reduce her to the sum of her sex life. Against a powerful enchantress there is no contest, against a woman who ensnares a man in the coils of her serpentine intelligence, in her ropes of pearls, there should at least be some kind of antidote. Cleopatra unsettles more as sage than as seductress. It is less threatening to believe her fatally attractive than fatally intelligent."

"There was a glamour and a grandeur to her story well before Octavian or Shakespeare got his hands on it."

Note: Schiff's book was recommended to me by rebeccanyc, an LT member whose opinion I valued. Sadly rebeccanyc (Sibyl) died in August this year. Her excellent review is here: rebeccanyc's review

Oct 20, 2017, 2:35pm Top

Category: Series

Black and Blue by Ian Rankin

At the beginning of the story Rebus is listening to The Rolling Stones' album Black and Blue, not one of their best albums in my opinion, yet I can imagine Rebus the die-hard Stones fan enjoying it.

Rankin said this one was his favourite, and of all the Rankin novels I've read so far it's my favourite too.

Oct 21, 2017, 5:38pm Top

Starting a month with three 5* reads, impressive! I took BBs for The Baker's Secret and Little Bee, both sound very interesting.

Oct 21, 2017, 5:47pm Top

Both of those books were good, a little different, but very enjoyable.

Oct 26, 2017, 2:39am Top

Category: Calendar Memos: National Cat Day

The Black Cat by Martha Grimes

There were some slow moments, but the solution made up for them. A decent story with some offbeat humour. I enjoyed the conversations between cat and dog.

Edited: Oct 27, 2017, 1:48pm Top

Category: History/historical

Innovation Nation by David Johnston

The sub-title says it all: How Canadians made the world a smarter, smaller, kinder, safer, healthier, wealthier, and happier.

David Johnston's term as Canada's Governor General ended in September 2017 and to commemorate the occasion, he gave us this collection of creativity originating in Canada from the light bulb (yes, Canadians Henry Woodward and Matthew Evans sold their patent to Edison) to the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights by John Humphrey in 1948, to blue box recycling. This book will be a welcome addition to any young person's library (and mine) because the nationality of so many breakthroughs don't get noticed or are forgotten and Canada has so much to be proud of. It's also a reminder that innovation can be generated by anyone. Very interesting, well-written, with great illustrations.

This is an Early Reviewer book that I was delighted to receive.

Oct 28, 2017, 7:51pm Top

Category: Calendar Memos: October 31 Hallowe'en

The Skeleton Haunts a House by Leigh Perry

It's surprising just how easy it is to accept a sleuth who is a walking, talking, skeleton! And clever too! The fun was silly and incredible as so many cozy mysteries are, but very entertaining. This was a perfect read anytime but especially at Hallowe'en. Now I have to go back to the beginning of the series to find out how Sid arrived in the family. I'd like one just like him.

Many thanks to LittleTaiko for the recommendation.

Oct 29, 2017, 8:46am Top

You’re so welcome! I’m happy you enjoyed it as much as I did. The rest of the series is just as fun. I ended up reading the rest pretty quickly. I would love to have one just like Sid too.

Oct 31, 2017, 2:00am Top

Category BingoDOG: #9 Made into a movie

Another best seller that others liked better than I did:

Still Alice by Lisa Genova

It is understandable how this novel became a bestseller. The story of Alice, a Harvard professor who suffers from early onset Alzheimer's is a riveting one, making the reader think "this could be me”. Unfortunately the quality of the writing does not correspond with the compelling topic, I found it lumbering, pedestrian, and in places unnecessarily technical. My version was an audiobook significantly marred by the author's wooden, monotone narration. I do, however, have every sympathy with anyone suffering with this terrifying diagnosis.

Oct 31, 2017, 5:52am Top

>150 This book is on my TBR, I'll be interested to see how I find it. Poor writing is something that can really mar a book for me, however amazing the idea or characters are.

Oct 31, 2017, 12:48pm Top

>150 - I'm sorry you didn't like that one more as that was one of my favorite books the year I read it and I've enjoyed almost all of her other books as well. Oh well, to each their own. :)

Oct 31, 2017, 2:25pm Top

>151 And you may just love it! I'll watch for your review!

>152 I would have liked it more if I'd read the print version. I loved the movie with Julianne Moore so I fully expected to enjoy the book. Genova's narration capped it for me.

Nov 1, 2017, 7:46am Top

>143 VivienneR: I'm glad to hear this one is so good. I have it on my shelves myself, but I have a couple of other Rebus books to read first to catch up to that point.

Nov 1, 2017, 1:27pm Top

>154 We must be around the same place in the series. I accidentally jumped ahead, no doubt attracted by hearing Black and Blue was Rankin's favourite, so now have to go back a couple of titles.

Nov 1, 2017, 1:39pm Top

>155 My next Rebus is The Black Book but I think I'll save it for the ColorCAT January challenge. Maybe I'll get to Black and Blue in time for May's Blue theme.

Nov 1, 2017, 3:25pm Top

>156 Good idea! I might do that too if it is available at the library. I was just thinking Let it Bleed would be good for November's ColorCAT (red).

Nov 1, 2017, 3:33pm Top

October Summary:

Category: Dust Collectors
The Critic by Peter May 2.5★

Category: Recommendations
Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny 5★
Cleopatra: a life by Stacy Schiff 4★

Category: Series
Black and Blue by Ian Rankin 4★

Category: Translations
The Man who went up in Smoke by Maj Sjöwall 2.5★

Category: Biography
The Final Curtsey: A Royal Memoir by the Queen's Cousin by Margaret Rhodes 3.5★

Category: History/historical
Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club by Dorothy L. Sayers 4★
Innovation Nation by David Johnston 5★

Category: Calendar Memos:
Full Moon: When the Moon Comes by Paul Harbridge, illustrations by Matt James 5★
National Cat Day: The Black Cat by Martha Grimes 3★
Halloween: The Skeleton Haunts a House by Leigh Perry 3.5★

Category: Mystery AlphaKIT: A & V
The Voice of the Violin by Andrea Camilleri 3.5★

Category: CATwoman: Regional reading
Treading Water by Anne DeGrace 4★

Category: AwardsCAT: Giller prize, long list 2017
We'll all be burnt in our beds some night by Joel Thomas Hynes 4.5★

Category: RandomCAT: Turn on the Dark
We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson 5★

Category BingoDOG:
#9 Made into a movie: Still Alice by Lisa Genova 3★

Read in October: 16
Read year-to-date: 162
A - acquired before 2015: 38 (24%)
B - acquired since 2015: 104 (64%)
C - borrowed: 20 (12%)

Nov 1, 2017, 8:18pm Top

Category: Calendar Memos: Nov 5 Guy Fawkes Day

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy by John le Carré

An excellent story of espionage and treason just in time for Guy Fawkes Day. George Smiley has to determine which of his comrades is a mole.

Reading this reminded me of rebeccanyc, also a fan of le Carré, who told me this was one of her favourites.

Nov 1, 2017, 8:29pm Top

I keep meaning to get to le Carre, especially since I saw an interview with him about his new book on 60 Minutes. Maybe next year.

Nov 1, 2017, 9:10pm Top

I wish I'd seen that interview, especially if it was about The Pigeon Tunnel that I rated 5 stars. I really like his books, they remind me of old movies, and his writing is impeccable.

Nov 1, 2017, 9:20pm Top

>159 rabbitprincess: Did you see the talk by le Carré (billed as "An Evening with George Smiley") broadcast in cinemas in late October? My brother happened to mention it because he was taking our parents to see it, and luckily a theatre here was showing it as well! It was so good and made me want to (re)read all the books! Thinking of rereading Smiley's People next.

Nov 2, 2017, 10:55am Top

>159 rabbitprincess: I've been wanting to read more le Carré ever since I enjoyed The Spy Who Came In from the Cold so much. I know that Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is part of a series, but can it be read as a standalone?

Edited: Nov 2, 2017, 2:30pm Top

>162 That sounds familiar but I didn't follow up on it and it would never reach a cinema around here. But thank you for the title, I'll poke around and see if I can find anything.

>163 I read most of his books years ago, out of order (I didn't have LT's convenient series list back then). My re-reads have been out of order too, which doesn't bother me, possibly because I'm familiar with the characters. But there is a denouement at the end of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy so it may not be a good idea to go backwards from here. It is the 5th in the George Smiley series and 1st in the Karla series.

Nov 2, 2017, 3:21pm Top

>164 Hmm, okay, good to know!

Nov 2, 2017, 6:14pm Top

>163 rabbitprincess: >164 Yes, I'd definitely read Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, The Honourable Schoolboy, and Smiley's People in that order, because they make up a trilogy.

Nov 2, 2017, 11:46pm Top

>166 Good advice! I'm not the best person to ask because I often read series out of order. (One of these days I'll figure out if Siobhan is working with Rebus or not.)

Nov 3, 2017, 10:40am Top

Category: Calendar Memos: Nov 5, Guy Fawkes Day

Marbeck and the Gunpowder Plot by John Pilkington

Set in 1605 when James I is on the throne, this is an espionage tale 17th century style. Marbeck, an intelligencer, discovers information about a plot to kidnap the royal children and the mysterious amassing of gunpowder. Despite his spymaster's lack of interest he investigates further and is thrown in jail leading him to think his boss is in the pay of Papists and Thomas Percy. Reading this was a strange experience because even though the outcome of the Gunpowder Plot is well known, the story kept me on tenterhooks throughout. I wish I'd read more about the real life story before reading Pilkington's yarn, then I would have been able to recognize the names (or aliases) of the villains as they put in an appearance. But no matter, I enjoyed the story thoroughly, and look forward to reading more of Pilkington's Marbeck adventures.

Nov 3, 2017, 8:33pm Top

>167 I read mystery series out of order more often than not, but general fiction series I tend to read in order. (I'd never read Dorothy Dunnett's Lymond Chronicles out of order, for example.)

Nov 5, 2017, 7:33pm Top

That's a good plan! Years ago when buying online was not an option and the local library's collection was the only choice, especially for older books, I read whatever was on offer - rarely getting the order exact. Now it's not so important because either they are re-reads and I already know what happens, or I'm filling in titles that I missed along the way.

Nov 5, 2017, 7:34pm Top

Category: CATwoman: LGBQ/Feminist writing

The Evening Chorus by Helen Humphreys

Humphreys has taken three actual events from WWII and woven them into this tender story. What makes it exceptional is Humphreys' beautifully eloquent writing that doesn't have one expendable word. The nature stories, that Humphreys is so at ease with, combined with those of her human characters, somehow reflect life, not a fictionalized version of it. This is yet another way to tell a war story. Highly recommended.

Edited: Nov 5, 2017, 8:19pm Top

>171 - Definite book bullet for this one. I read one of her other books The Lost Garden and really loved it so it makes sense to seek out other books by her.

Nov 5, 2017, 9:27pm Top

>171 I have this one on my wishlist, I love the cover.

Nov 6, 2017, 1:15am Top

>172 The Lost Garden was excellent too. Until now, my favourite was Coventry. The Frozen Thames was a great little book too. I love the way she writes.

>173 I just realized that the cover on my LT entry wasn't the one on my book. The other one isn't nearly so attractive.

Nov 6, 2017, 1:17am Top

Category BingoDOG: #25 Next in Series

Trick of the Light by Louise Penny

There is no doubt that Penny's atmospheric novels are in a class of their own and the residents of Three Pines, whether pleasant or not, are rich in character. Athough this one appealed less than others in the series, I'm still looking forward to the next one - The Beautiful Mystery.

Nov 8, 2017, 12:06am Top

Category BingoDOG: #6 Author uses initials

A Detective Under Fire by H.R.F. Keating

Harriet Martens, who has become known as The Hard Detective because of her tough image (in a previous book) has been sent from the Midlands to a maximum crime squad in London to lead an inquiry of corruption. She discovers she is being referred to there as "the dozy Northern tart" - not a good outlook. But why was she, a relatively minor officer, sent to investigate what would normally call for someone significantly more senior? She is good at asking questions and getting answers but there are so many unknown pitfalls that she could unknowingly step into. She made a big mistake and almost got caught breaking the law. Hmm, pretty hard to take in, but it's her only misstep in this enjoyable novel.

Nov 9, 2017, 1:11am Top

Category: RandomCAT: Traffic Jam

The Moving Toyshop by Edmund Crispin

Arriving in Oxford on foot in the middle of the night, Cadogan finds the door of a toyshop open. Of course he explores, finds a dead woman, obviously murdered, right before he is knocked out. When he reports the incident to the police the next day, not only the body has disappeared, but the toyshop has gone too. Cadogan and his friend, Oxford don Gervase Fen, investigate. This is a combination of comedy and farce with many literary references thrown in, and all packed with action. Funny, clever and highly entertaining.

Nov 9, 2017, 1:34pm Top

>177 Ooh, I just bought this one! Glad to hear you enjoyed it!

Nov 9, 2017, 2:27pm Top

>178 You will enjoy it! I can imagine Crispin having a lot of fun when he wrote it.

Nov 9, 2017, 4:08pm Top

Catching up

>37 VivienneR: Two years ago I read Symphony for the City of the Dead and learned so much about the siege of Stalingrad and Shostakovich's symphony. So interesting!

>92 VivienneR: I'm doing a slooooow read of the Brother Cadfael series. They never fail to entertain me.

>100 VivienneR: I donated my copy of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet to the school library. Someone, unfortunately, lost it. I should look for a used copy to replace it. It is a great story illustrating the story of the interment camps.

>107 VivienneR: I visited my grandmother in France when I was eight and was hospitalized with scarlet fever. It was the only book she could find for me in English. It has always held a special place for me.

>142 VivienneR: I also enjoyed and learned much from this biography. It inspired me to request a biography of Hatshepsut that was offered on ER. Unfortunately so much of her past was obliterated so that the book was all conjecture and I did not like it.

>159 rabbitprincess: I read a lot of le Carre's books years ago. I'm thinking it would be a good time to revisit them. Maybe they'll pop up on an ebook sale one day soon.

>175 christina_reads: I had almost forgotten I place a hold on Glass Houses. I'm 19th in line for an ebook.

Nov 9, 2017, 5:50pm Top

>177 mamzel: I read The Case of the Gilded Fly by Edmund Crispin a number of years ago and really should pick up more of his work.

Nov 9, 2017, 5:54pm Top

>177 mamzel: Thinking I should re-read my Crispins now that I've actually been to Oxford! :)

Nov 9, 2017, 8:25pm Top

>180 VivienneR: Nice to see you dropping by! The biggest challenge with LibraryThing is keeping up with all the threads. I believe I'm now 44th in line for Glass Houses, but that's ok because I have to catch up on the series.

>181 I noticed I have given The Gilded Fly a low rating, but I can't remember a thing about it. I will read more Crispin though! I've been poring over the Kindle list today.

>182 I can just see Gervase Fen flying around Oxford in his classic sports car!

Nov 10, 2017, 5:44pm Top

>183 I don't remember a lot about A Gilded Fly other than it had a theatre setting and the author was very witty. I have heard that The Moving Toyshop is the one to read so that is where I will probably go next with this author.

Nov 11, 2017, 3:02am Top

>184 Wise choice, Judy. I found it really entertaining.

Nov 11, 2017, 3:06am Top

Category: Calendar Memos: November 11, Remembrance Day

Night by Elie Wiesel

I spotted this book in the library in a display for Remembrance Day and realized that although I know a fair amount about the good work Wiesel has done, I've never read any of his books. This is one of those books that should be on everyone's list. We must never forget.

Nov 11, 2017, 9:27am Top

>186 I'll be honest, that's a book I know I must read, but I haven't yet dared to.

Nov 11, 2017, 1:34pm Top

>187 It's a small book, written in a conversational style that is easy to read. The horrors are there of course, but not overdone as in some modern books that I've read.

Nov 11, 2017, 5:03pm Top

>186 dudes22: - I read this for the Oct Random Cat and you're right about it being not overdone on the horror while still being explicit about how bad it was.

Nov 12, 2017, 1:09am Top

>47 VivienneR:, I'm playing catch up here. This post gave me a laugh though - ute and eski, Funny!

Nov 12, 2017, 11:37am Top

Stopping by to get caught up.

>101 VivienneR: - Enid Blyton takes me back to my childhood days! Such great stories. For me, I really liked her girl school series, Malory Towers and St. Clare's, but the adventure stories were also great reading.

>107 VivienneR:- Every-time I re-read The Little Prince I gain more insight into the depth of Saint-Exuprey's writing.

>147 VivienneR: - Taking a BB for Innovation Nation.

>171 VivienneR: - Oooohhhh.... a Humphreys I haven't read yet! BB!

>186 dudes22: - I have already taken a BB for the Wiesel book, but happy to see another recommendation for this one!

Nov 12, 2017, 7:33pm Top

>189 VivienneR: I was impressed by Wiesel's thoughts on how father/son relations were strained. He wrote about it in a very sensitive manner while his respect for his father was obvious.

>190 I was hoping an Aussie would notice that :) My football team is the Edmonton Eskimos, often shortened to Eskies so you can understand how I was misled.

>191 I have always love Enid Blyton.

I'll take your opinion as advice and re-read The Little Prince regularly.

The Evening Chorus may be my favourite Humphreys so far.

Nov 14, 2017, 8:15pm Top

This is an Early Reviewer book that I just received. No category.

Counting on Snow by Maxwell Newhouse

This is a lovely board book suitable for young children learning to count. It provides a slight tongue-twister to accompany each of the arctic animals - five wolves watching - which is a game most children will love learning to recite. The snow becomes thicker on each page obscuring the creatures just like real snow. Beautiful.

Nov 15, 2017, 4:48pm Top

Category: Mystery AlphaKIT: L & Q, & yearlong X

Don't cry, Tai Lake by Xiaolong Qiu

I enjoyed this mystery set in the Chinese city of Wuxi and featuring Inspector Chen, a poet, whose poetry is sprinkled liberally throughout the novel. This story is brimming with atmosphere providing a real sense of the place and culture of China. His boss has arranged for Chen to have a luxury vacation at the beautiful Tai Lake with instructions to write a report of the area. When the head of a chemical plant that pours toxic waste into the lake is murdered, it becomes Chen's unofficial investigation. The local police regard Chen as a celebrity who is welcomed as much for his star quality as his investigative skills. I could quibble about some coincidences leading to the solution but enjoyed the story - and Chen - enough to reading more of the series.

My thanks to markswoman whitewavedarling who provided the book bullet.

Nov 16, 2017, 12:45am Top

Category: Series

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante

The first in a series of four, this a tale of growing up in poverty in Italy where class and wealth can make a huge difference to a young person. I can see that Ferrante is a talented writer although I wasn't able to associate with any of the characters and didn't get any sense of the setting. The story just didn't resonate with me.

This was my second try with this book. On the first try, I didn't finish it. I'll try the next in the series but I'm not sure Ferrante is for me.

Nov 16, 2017, 12:32pm Top

That's one I keep going back and forth on as to whether I want to read it. Your review is keeping me firmly in the maybe later once I've read everything else camp.

Nov 16, 2017, 1:50pm Top

That's how I'm feeling about the rest of the series. If I continue it will be because I've been convinced the characters/story becomes more interesting - but I don't see it happening.

Nov 18, 2017, 1:25pm Top

Category: AwardsCAT: Local award

Buffalo Jump: a woman's travels by Rita Moir

Van City Book Prize (2000) & Hubert Evans Non-Fiction Prize finalist (2000)

Part travel narrative, part biography, but mostly an account of reminiscences shared during a journey the author made with her mother across Canada. She asked the questions that we mean to ask a parent or grandparent but never get the right moment. There was some pain, some heartache, but mostly this is an upbeat story with some very nice moments.

Although they stop and contemplate history at Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump in Alberta, and mention buffalo often, the title metaphor was a weak link in the story. Moir had a tough time trying to make it work.

The author currently lives in the Kootenay region of British Columbia.

Nov 19, 2017, 3:55pm Top

>195 VivienneR: - This was my second try with this book. On the first try, I didn't finish it.

Hum.... I have that series on my bookshelves. I might attempt it next year, but I might reach for more shiny books first.

Nov 19, 2017, 5:25pm Top

>199 I'll be interested in your opinion, Lori, if and when you read it. Many readers love it.

Edited: Nov 19, 2017, 9:09pm Top

Category BingoDOG #8 Published 1940-60s:

The Man on the Balcony by Maj Sjöwall

Another good Martin Beck mystery although the ending was a bit anticlimactic and abrupt.

Only one more square to hit to fill my Bingo card!

Edited: Nov 21, 2017, 2:02am Top

This was beginning to take too long to open so I continued the thread here. I hope you'll come and join me.

Group: 2017 Category Challenge

131 members

24,176 messages


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